James Harden finally shares real reason he called Daryl Morey a liar
Most people who followed the situation between James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers knew what really infuriated the former MVP, but Harden has finally confirmed it.
Harden and 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey used to have a close relationship that began when Morey was an executive with the Houston Rockets, Harden’s former team. Things quickly soured this past offseason, when Harden demanded that Philadelphia trade him and said he would never again play for a team that was associated with Morey.
Harden was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, but not before the situation got ugly. While speaking at an event in China over the summer, Harden publicly blasted Morey for being a “liar” (video here).
In an interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic that was published on Monday, Harden finally confirmed what many have suspected. The 34-year-old was asked if the 76ers had promised him a max contract extension, to which he replied “yeah.” Amick then asked specifically if Morey said that.
“Yes. Yes,” Harden said.
Following the 2021-22 season, Harden declined his $47 million player option and signed a new two-year deal with Philadelphia. He took what amounted to a $15 million pay cut when you consider what he would have gotten with a max contract. It was widely assumed that he did so believing that he would be taken care of with a max deal 12 months down the road.
Harden told Amick that Morey assured the guard again before last season’s playoffs began that Harden would be getting a max extension.
“Well, the time that’s important was before the playoffs started (last season),” Harden said. “He had conversations with my representation.”
Amick reached out to a 76ers team source who denied Harden’s claim.
Harden claims Morey stopped communicating with him after the 76ers were defeated by the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The 10-time All-Star said he and Morey had always met after the playoffs in past seasons to discuss the future, but Morey ghosted him this time.
“And then this year, there was no communication,” Harden told Amick. “And at that point, it’s like, ‘OK, I see what’s going on.’ I’m very intelligent. So then I just figure out ‘What’s my next move, and what do I want to do?'”
The NBA investigated Harden’s “liar” comment to determine if the 76ers made Harden a verbal contractual promise. Doing so and not following through could have potentially resulted in disciplinary action against the team. However, Harden told league officials that Morey lied to him by telling Harden he would trade him quickly.
It is unclear why Harden did not tell NBA investigators about the alleged max contract promise. Perhaps he felt he would have gotten in trouble with the NBA Players Association by admitting he took less than fair market value in his previous deal with the 76ers.
Even if Harden is now telling the truth, we doubt the NBA will circle back.